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Reynolds Draws Big Fine In California

A California judge has fined R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. $20 million for targeting teenagers with magazine advertising in violation of a landmark 1998 settlement. The state attorney general´s office, which filed suit against the nation´s No. 2 tobacco firm last year, asked Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager to fine the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company and ban it from advertising in 50 magazines read by teens. Deputy Attorney General Karen Leaf said in closing arguments last month that the tobacco company advertised in magazines popular with teenagers such as Motorcyclist, Hot Rod, and Spin. The 1998 tobacco settlement with 46 states makes no specific mention of magazine advertising but includes a ban on tobacco companies taking “any action, directly or indirectly, to target youth.” Lawyers for Reynolds contend that such a restriction on advertising would violate the company´s First Amendment rights.